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Hail Them Uhura: The Magic of Nichelle Nichols

I would like to pause and hail the magic art of actress Nichelle Nichols who passed away on July 30, 2022. Ms. Nichols played the communications officer on the iconic television series, Star Trek. In the true Star Trek canon, she was a smart soldier, an officer, and a faithful member of the crew. I can remember as a 10-year-old watching her (and being forever years old in reruns) and aspiring to go to space – the final frontier.

Yeah, but that was all science fiction, right? Ms. Nichols was an artist – a gifted actress bringing reality to a fictitious role. Her art was what Robin George Collingwood called, in his treatise Principles of Art, magic art. Magic art changes the way we interact with the reality of the world. Her magic inspired me to shoot for the stars showing me that a smart black girl could command, lead, and inspire.

Ms. Nichols was more than an artist and a purveyor of magic. She set out to help NASA in a campaign to attract women of all races to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). I was so blessed to meet her at one of the last launches of the Space Shuttle. She was friendly and full of grace. Though she was slight in build and not very tall, she was a giant in my eyes.

Oscar Wilde said that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. For me, she was worthy of imitation, inspiring this girl to study mathematics and shoot for the stars.

~Dr. Linda Cureton

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